UNITED STATES, October 6, 2021 (History News Network): For decades, Douglas Latchford cut a romantic figure: The genial Englishman was an explorer of jungle temples, a scholar and a connoisseur seduced by the exquisite details of ancient sculpture. Beginning in the 1970s, he amassed one of the world’s largest private collections of Khmer treasures, mostly Hindu and Buddhist sculpture, the remains of a civilization that flourished in Southeast Asia a thousand years ago. He co-wrote three glossy books on the subject. Yet while Latchford professed reverence for Khmer achievements, he was also trafficking in and profiting from antiquities pillaged from that civilization’s sacred temples, according to U.S. prosecutors, part of a decades-long ransacking of Cambodian sites that ranks as one of the most devastating cultural thefts of the 20th century.

When the United States indicted Latchford in 2019, it seemed at last that hundreds of stolen items he had traded might be identified and returned: Prosecutors demanded the forfeiture of “any and all property” derived from his illicit trade over four decades. But then the 88-year-old Latchford died before trial, leaving unresolved a tantalizing question: What happened to all the money and looted treasures? The answer lies, at least in part, in previously undisclosed records describing secret offshore companies and trusts that Latchford and his family controlled. The records are part of the Pandora Papers, a cache of more than 11.9 million documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with The Washington Post and other media outlets around the globe.

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